​Best Lures for River Fishing

By: Jake Schneider

October 20, 2022

Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are being on the stream with my Dad and Uncles. We loved to target trout and smallmouth bass on small roostertails! For a lot of us, this paints a picture in our minds and is the foundation of many of our greatest fishing stories. Streams and rivers are prevalent throughout the United States and are typically havens for aquatic life. So what are some good lures for river fishing? Let’s take a look at some essential river fishing lures you’ll want to have in your arsenal to be successful on the moving water.

An inline spinner is my #1 go-to lure for any piece of water that I know has trout in it. They’re undoubtedly one of the most effective river lures! Fish them fast and cover water, or dredge the deep dark pools looking for that monster, they’re no doubt some of the best river lures out there. Rooster TailsMepps, and Panther Martins are all very well-known spinners that have been catching fish and taking names for years! More natural colors have always been key for me as trout are more willing to take a natural lure. Browns, yellows, and blacks are very key for me, especially the black. I believe that that black spinner replicates a leech that is drifting downstream. Leeches are big trout candy, and not coincidently a lot of great lures for river fishing represent them! On the contrary, bright and obnoxious colors like hot pink and chartreuse can be some triggering colors. Sometimes a rainbow trout's kryptonite is a hot pink spinner! Louder colors can also be tremendous during muddy water periods. Inline spinners are excellent lures for smallmouth bass as well. River smallies react especially well to a brown and gold roostertail.

Another dynamite lure for fishing in a river is a soft plastic swimbait or twister tail. Keitech swimbaits are a proven killer for big river smallmouth, as well as hyper predatorial trout. Those keitech swimbaits are coated in a gel that smells like squid. It befuddles me because a river trout or smallmouth has never seen a squid, but they attack it like it's their last meal. The Keitech Fat Swing Impact in the 2.8 and 3.3 sizes are perfect bite-sized snacks for predators. Curly tail plastics like the famous Mister Twister is another killer lure. A straight white twister tail is a great lure to throw into log jams, grass, or overhanging tree limbs. Both of these lures are fished best on a jig head and reeled at a slow to medium retrieve.

Hard jerkbaits are also a great option! The Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow is a fantastic option to get a reaction strike! Snap, reel, and pause that jerkbait to get that fish to bite out of aggression! Small Rapala Husky Jerks and Rapala Original floater are a standby also!

River fishing can be a great way to get into fishing or is a standby for the seasoned veteran. You may never know what's around the next bend!